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Galileo Paperback – January 11, 1994
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Original Language: German
About the Author
Eric Bentley is the author of "Bentley on Brecht", "What Is Theater?", and other volumes about drama. Born in England in 1916, he was inducted into the American Hall of Fame in 1998. He lives in New York City.
Top Customer Reviews
To its credit, the APA formally condemned such collaboration. But the whole sordid incident reminds us (as if we need reminding) that when men and women of science allow their knowledge to be misused, either out of cowardice or misguided patriotism, science can become a horrible tool for exploitation and destruction. This, in a nutshell, is the central theme of Brecht's second version of "Galileo."
The play is one of Brecht's best. Written with a nondidactic hand, the play is anything but dreary socialist realism. At times funny and at other times incredibly sad, the sober message that it is the scientist's responsibility to make sure that his or her discoveries are used properly runs throughout. In abjuring his physics under threats from the Inquisition, Brecht's Galileo displays moral cowardice: first, because he allows established power to usurp his discoveries, and second because he lets down the people who could most profit from his specific discoveries as well as the spirit of unfettered inquiry that generated them. As Galileo says at one point in the play, "The practice of science would seem to call for valor."
Several reviewers have remarked that the introduction by Eric Bentley is long-winded and have accordingly reduced their rating for the book. This strikes me as odd for two reasons. First, presumably one purchases "Galileo" to read Brecht, not attached commentary.Read more ›
Bertolt Brecht uses the life of Galileo to comment upon his own times and conditions but it is the strength of the play that it would and could reflect upon the entire human condition and situations where a new truth challenges a well established ideology.
The story is well established in history that Galileo discovered various aspects around the movement of the planets and the moon which challenged Christian orthodoxy, he is allowed some flexibility by the church in recognition of his status, but eventually he is forced to recount his writings as fictitious and not reflective of the larger truth taught by Christianity. It is to Brecht’s great credit that the Cardinals, Pope, Bishop, and inquisitors are for the most part portrayed as highly educated, sophisticated men who greatly appreciated how a challenge to Christian orthodoxy could be the first step in undermining the entire conceptual faith model that Christianity had built over a period of 1000 years. To allow that the earth revolves around the sun opens up the possibility that there was not a virgin birth or a resurrection, concepts on which Christianity hangs. Galileo was up against wise men, not fools, and they were strong defenders of the Christian conceptual model and the infrastructure of the church which is built upon that conceptual foundation.Read more ›
This book is as relevant today as it was more than a half century ago. It behooves any serious thinker to read it and learn from it.
Brecht himself certainly knew about such pressures. Although in public, at least, Brecht was a fairly orthodox Stalinist he had his private moments of doubt. Certainly some of the themes in his plays stretch the limits of the orthodox `socialist realist' cultural program. Thus the strongest part of the play is the struggle between an individual who is onto something new about the world and an institution that saw that such a discovery would wreak havoc on its claims to centrality. Every once in a while a section of humankind turns inward on itself like that and here the Church was no exception. Damn, the fight against such obscurantism is the price that we pay for some sense of human progress. Except, as in the case of the Catholic Church, it should not have taken 300 years to admit the error. Know this. We have to defend the Galileos of the world against the rise of obscurantism. And in this play Brecht has done his part to honor that commitment.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought this for my husband for a class, he had no complaints! Came fast and was what he neededPublished 20 days ago by Megh C
Interesting a fast read. Not very accurate history but has lots of implied social commentary.Published 8 months ago by Rebecca
It was very interesting reading and a wonderful look at how Galileo viewed his look on science vs. church and I enjoyed the how he was abled to complete the work under house... Read morePublished on March 6, 2014 by Patricia Norwood
This book is really riveting; there is a lot of subtle symbolism and the plots and social commentary really tells a lot about the time period this was written.Published on March 4, 2013 by Hyundee
This elaborate play, one of the best of its production according to many, creates a reflection on how important, science is for mankind to open the horizons for understanding how... Read morePublished on February 17, 2013 by Juan Manuel Wills
This was an interesting historical play that educated as well as dramatized. Though, for this reader, it fizzled toward the end.Published on July 26, 2010 by Vance
This book shows the scientific insights of Galileo and his stand againt the religious authorities, along with his collapse in the face of personal threat.Published on April 8, 2008 by Angus M. Kennedy